Thursday, March 25, 2021


25     March 2021: Maritime Maunder does not typically report on news stories (except the America's Cup last week!) but the current situation in the Suez Canal - perhaps the busiest waterway in the world - is worth a look, especially since there seems no likely explanation for what happened. From AP:



ISMAILIA, Egypt (AP) — A skyscraper-sized container ship has become wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal and blocked all traffic in the vital waterway, officials said Wednesday [ed: 3/24], threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Satellite image of Ever Given


The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. Images showed the ship’s bow was touching the eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against the western wall — an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of happening before in the canal’s 150-year history.

Tugboats strained Wednesday to try to nudge the obstruction out of the way as ships hoping to enter the waterway began lining up in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. But it remained unclear when the route, through which around 10% of world trade flows and which is particularly crucial for the transport of oil [ed:emphasis ours], would reopen. One official warned it could take at least two days. In the meantime, there were concerns that idling ships could become targets for attacks. [ed: they are now talking as much as 2 weeks]

“The Suez Canal will not spare any efforts to ensure the restoration of navigation and to serve the movement of global trade,” vowed Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given, said all 20 members of the crew were safe and that there had been “no reports of injuries or pollution.”

The refloating operation was temporarily suspended late Wednesday and will be resumed early Thursday, according to canal service provider Leth Agencies.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the ship to become wedged on Tuesday morning. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, said the ship had experienced a blackout without elaborating.

Bernhard Schulte, however, denied the ship ever lost power.

Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.

An Egyptian official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, similarly blamed a strong wind. Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50 kph (30 mph).

However, it remained unclear how winds of that speed alone would have been able to push a fully laden vessel weighing some 220,000 tons.[ed: we agree - highly unlikely]

Tuesday marked the second major crash involving the Ever Given in recent years. In 2019, the cargo ship ran into a small ferry moored on the Elbe river in the German port city of Hamburg. Authorities at the time blamed strong wind for the collision, which severely damaged the ferry.

A pilot from Egypt’s canal authority typically boards a ship to guide it through the waterway, though the ship’s captain retains ultimate authority over the vessel, said Ranjith Raja, a lead analyst at the data firm Refinitiv. The vessel entered the canal some 45 minutes before it became stuck, moving at 12.8 knots (about 24 kph, 15 mph) just before the crash, he said.

An image posted to Instagram by a user on another waiting cargo ship appeared to show the Ever Given wedged across the canal as shown in satellite images and data. A backhoe appeared to be That could have a major knock-on effect for global shipping moving between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, warned Salvatore R. Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor of history at North Carolina’s Campbell University.

“Every day, 50 vessels on average go through that canal, so the closing of the canal means no vessels are transiting north and south,” Mercogliano told the AP. “Every day the canal is closed ... container ships and tankers are not delivering food, fuel and manufactured goods to Europe and goods are not being exported from Europe to the Far East.”

Already, some 30 vessels waited at Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake midway on the canal, while some 40 idled in the Mediterranean near Port Said and another 30 at Suez in the Red Sea, according to Leth Agencies. That included seven vessels carrying some 5 million barrels of crude oil, Refinitiv said.

In addition to the economic implications, security experts warned that idling ships in the Red Sea could be targets after a series of attacks against shipping in the Mideast amid tensions between Iran and the U.S.

“All vessels should consider adopting a heightened posture of alertness if forced to remain static within the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden,” warned private marine intelligence firm Dryad Global.

The closure also could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Mideast. The price of international benchmark Brent crude jumped nearly 2.9% to $62.52 a barrel Wednesday.


So there it is. Suez closed to all traffic for an indeterminate time period. And the world waits for: 1) causal explanation (not buying a 30MPH breeze for a second), 2)figuring out how to "unstick" it and 3)how high will the world-wide price of oil get. 4) Will Iran or pirates attack waiting ships. We ask: Could it have been intentional? Time will tell. 

Until next time,

                                    Fair Winds, 

                                           Old Salt


Thursday, March 18, 2021


 18 March 2021: First, we must offer our congratulations to Team New Zealand/Emirates for their spectacular victory yesterday in the final race of the America's Cup held in New Zealand. They sailed brilliantly against the Italians opening their lead on each leg of the six leg course. As that was their 7th win, they will retain the Cup for the next four years. So, well done, Kiwis!

Last week we suggested that something of perhaps wider interest might be our subject and we hope this is. It's from the British periodical The Guardian and concerns the British man of war (frigate, actually) which gained fame during the American Revolutionary War (1776-81). In England, the war is referred to as the War of Independence.



Three cannons discovered during routine dredging of the Savannah River (Georgia, U.S.) are believed to be from a British warship that was intentionally scuttled during the Revolutionary War.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed the discovery in photos published this week, after recovering the pre-Civil War artillery pieces while clearing the river of obstructions.

Tentative research suggests the cannons may be linked to the HMS Rose, the British naval terror that was scuttled in the river to block French forces from rendering aid to the Americans during the Revolutionary War.


The cannons were recovered along with an anchor and timber from a ship near the area where the wreck of the ironclad Confederate warship CSS Georgia was salvaged, but experts believe that they pre-date the Civil War.


During the Revolutionary War, the HMS Rose rained fury up and down the Atlantic Coast, leading to the creation of the U.S. Navy in response.[ed:slight correction here: the Navy had already been created by then.]

The British warship played a major role in the invasion of New York, helping to drive George Washington from his rebel base in the city and ranging up and down the Hudson River.

In 1779, the Rose was defending the loyalist stronghold of Savannah, after King George III's forces shifted their focus to the Southern theater of the war following bitter disappointments in the north.

The British ship was sacrificed to created a blockade in a narrow part of the river channel, preventing the French fleet from rendering assistance to the American assault on Savannah.

The wreckage of the Rose was removed after the war to clear the channel, but experts believe that the recovered artifacts were left behind at the bottom of the river. 

Following the discovery of the cannons, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the British government to share their findings, and the UK embassy responded with enthusiasm at the discovery.

'It is exciting when artefacts from naval history are found. The discovery of an anchor, cannons, and ship timbers gives us a great opportunity to work with our US colleagues and allies to help identify them,' Commander Jim Morley, the UK's assistant naval attache in Washington DC, told WRDW.

'The possibility that they may, in fact, be from HMS ROSE, a Royal Navy vessel that was part of our fleet operations during the American Revolutionary war is fascinating,' Morley added.

enny Wraight, an Admiralty Librarian with the Royal Navy Naval Historical Branch, said: 'The source of these artefacts has yet to be definitively identified, but it is likely to date back to the American War of Independence when the British occupied Savannah. 

'In 1779, HMS ROSE, a 20-gun 6th rate of the Royal Navy's Seaford Class, was scuttled, with no loss of life, in the river to block the channel. After the war, the wreck had to be cleared to restore safe navigation,' Wraight said.

Meanwhile, teams continue to search the area in hopes of recovering more artifacts that could positively identify the wreck. 

'We hope that we find something down there that has integrity that can tell more of the story or the history of the Savannah River,' said Farmer. 

'Of course, the 1700s there was a lot going on in Savannah at that time. So, it may just be a new part of the story that we're able to uncover,' she added. 


Should the foregoing seem to our American readers a trifle slanted in its approach, please bear in mind that it comes from a British source! And as a point of interest, there is a reproduction of HMS Rose living life as a tourist attraction in San Diego, California. It was renamed HMS Surprise for her role in the film "Master and Commander" where she played Jack Aubrey's ship of the same name.

So, again, congrats to the Kiwi sailors,and we'll see you next time!

                         Fair winds, 

                                  Old Salt


Thursday, March 11, 2021


11 March 2021: Well, it's started and the excitement has built quickly. We said last week, that we hoped to offer an update on the Cup races in New Zealand and, with the cooperation of the corona virus (which had postponed the start of racing for a week), here we are with some news and a couple of images that are quite thrilling. As we mentioned previously, the NYYC/United States entry has been eliminated during the challenger series, (Prada Cup) along with the British boat, so for the first time since 2000, it's Italy vs. New Zealand. The boats are incredible, dangerous, fast, and outrageous! Top speeds on these foiling monohulls have exceeded 50 KTS! (recall the foiling cats in San Francisco and Bermuda.) Day one of racing was yesterday (10 March) and New Zealand won the first race handily, taking the lead at the start. In the 2nd, however, the Kiwis made a mistake at the start and Italy, brilliantly sailed into the lead and carried it through to the finish. Even in the relatively short courses, each boat tacks or jibes dozens of times. And that's where the race is decided; both are about equally fast in a straight line, so being able to hold the speed while changing course is paramount. So the "first to 7 wins" series is tied, 1 each. More racing tomorrow and Saturday.There are 2 races scheduled each day. You can find it on line or the television remembering it's 18 hours ahead of the eastern United States there - so while I am writing this on Thursday  afternoon, it's already mid morning on Friday there and they're gearing up for racing. Here's a couple of great images to feast your eyes on!

Team Emirates/New Zealand leads LunaRossa Challenge

Close work makes these races scary exciting!


That'll do it for this week. Next week we'll have an update on the racing and possibly an article of more general interest. We recognize that not everyone of our (now!) 119,000 readers care about the Cup, but many of us do. 

 Until next week, 

                                           Fair winds, 

                                                 Old Salt